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Fair Justice Act Proposal

Getting funding for ex-offender aids

     Every elected official says it is a matter of funding. We need to allocate new funds as well as redistributing funding given to police stations. We plan to redistribute the funds so that the jail, and prisons can bring in mental health aid to the inmates. We also plan to take that aid into their post-jail lives. We would like to extend that care into their general health, including vision and dental. We aim to give education services while they are in jail that can help them secure a job when they are released. We hope that we can extend that service to when they are released as well. The important thing is that we give this vulnerable population the tools that they need to succeed in their life after being released. In this funding process, we will also want to invest more funding into housing for inmates upon their reentry into society. This funding will apply to housing assistance for anyone no matter what their charge may have been. It would also include pushing legislation that would remove the barriers from ex-offenders receiving loans and grants for education, small businesses, and food stamps based upon their crimes or a waiting period. With the understanding that the longer we hinder them from being able to start a productive life, we make them more susceptible to committing another crime out of survival. As Mr. Ricky Brown, former Justice Coordinator for Congressman Kwanza Hall, would say, “We don’t want to rob, we want a job.”

Bias Training

    We must issue bias training to each Judge, Police Officer, and District Attorney. This is an attempt at making justice fairer. We turned to Cobb County, where the Superior Court Judges hosted an implicit bias training session. The participants found it surprising that they had biases that affected their judgment. It can show Judges where they lean into supporting District Attorneys and Officers, where they, themselves, do not see the need for certain rulings. This will allow them to check their biases when making decisions. It would also be an eye-opener for those who are tasked with being impartial and unbiased. I believe that if we implemented this kind of training throughout the criminal justice system it would open the eyes of so many people who don’t see their pursuit of justice as a vehicle to drive a personal agenda or bias. For example, a judge or prosecutor who has been raped before may not be the best person to oversee a case that involves this issue. Because it would be inhumane if they did not have some sort of bias to the issue. So where they may see every case as the person on the opposite side as being guilty but that’s not always the case. So bias training would help to eliminate these biases. A fair system, cannot be overwhelmed by a sense of bias towards anyone despite how heinous the crime may be. Updating Georgia Peace

Updating Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and County Liability

   POST is a 20-week basic training, and at the end of it, officers are given their area to patrol. We aim to push it to 42 weeks. This additional length of training is to accommodate bias training, de-escalation and critical incident training would be mandatory features. None of these life-saving programs are included currently. We are also aiming to make it so that all counties are held liable should an officer get fired for committing crimes from one and move to another. We suggest de-escalation training because we see so many times where an officer is called to a home and they end up shooting the wrong person, typically the person who placed the initial call. We also see cases where they reach for their gun before ever considering their taser. The aim should always be to detain, not kill, and yet more often we are seeing deaths that could have been avoided if officers were trained more thoroughly to avoid bias and implement a skill set like the one we propose. All counties must be held accountable for officers who have faced disciplinary actions and moved to a different precinct to continue being an officer. They must be held liable should this officer receive further disciplinary marks. There should be a more thorough vetting process as well as up-to-date certifications with the revised POST.

Courtroom More Transparent

   Every American has the right to be able to witness court proceedings so that they can understand the ruling better. Americans will be allowed to understand court happenings to better process the details of the case. It can also better prepare them should they ever find themselves in a similar predicament. It also promotes a sense of confidence in the judicial system's efficacy. It is also the aim that this will bring Judges to light for biases, consistency, impartiality, and improve the overall fairness of the system. Another reasoning is that this can lead to efficiency in the courtroom. The fact that the Courts are not transparent infringes on American citizen's rights to information and the right to a fair trial. We allow citizens to file and get police reports or copies of court filings because we say this is “public information.” So, why is the process that happens in the courtroom, and how we administer justice such a private matter and issue? Something that helped with the citizen's feelings about the George Floyd verdict, was that as a citizen we felt a part of the issue. There was also nothing that was going to come out of that as a private citizen, I could not say I did not hear or see for myself. So, cameras in the courtroom should not be an issue. We allow cameras in the halls of Congress and the Senate where we can watch what they debate every day. I do personally understand that when it comes to cases involving minors these may need to be handled differently. But at the same time, we have seen from Mr. Floyd’s case that if wanted, we can keep the identities of those involved off the screen. As well we need to change the fact that the DA’s office has instant and constant access to judges and their chambers when a judge is supposed to be an unbiased representative overhearing the argument from both sides. Judges, District Attorney’s offices, and police have too much constant access to each other. This is the reason why the average citizen has lost trust in the system. When we look at a system where these folks are housed in the same building and are only a floor apart from each other while defense attorneys are housed in their same building separated from both parties. Police investigate crimes and they are supposed to be passed to the DA’s office for a second set of eyes, not to tie up a loose knot the police department may have missed to close out a case. Being unbiased means that we need to get money out of the system.

Reform Grand Jury Process

   Officers have an unfair advantage over civilians when it comes to the indictment process. Officers can offer witnesses and testimonies before a Grand Jury. Civilians are not afforded this same right. This must change as no one should be above the law regardless of their job. A lot of citizens, even those that are a part of the legal system seem not to truly understand what the purpose of the grand jury is. Due to the overt secrecy of the grand jury proceedings, we recommend that we do away with the entire process because it appears to further confuse citizens. It logically doesn’t make sense that we say that the grand jury is a process to help the rights of citizens from being violated. When the grand jury only hears the opinions of one side and nothing from the other side. We propose that we either reform the grand jury process to allow for someone to represent the view from the defense or that we eliminate the grand jury process completely. There have been over 150,000 cases from 2019 and 2020 where there was a grand jury indictment but the person beat the trial later on. This means that there more than likely was not enough evidence to move forward with the case but the grand jury found that there was. It’s even worse than in some states the only person allowed to have someone in the room for a grand jury process is a police officer when it is an issue where it’s a police-involved incident. That is a big form of hypocrisy and as an attorney, you are considered an “Officer of the Court.” Meaning that if I am on the defense side and I hire an attorney, the court system should trust my attorney enough to represent me in a grand jury hearing without coming back and disclosing the information to me.

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